Fashion Week's opening night was swimming along in champagne until managing director Pieter Stewart burst the bubble with a stark warning that the event could not continue without more support.
Minutes after Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully lauded its contribution to branding Auckland and New Zealand as a creative country, Stewart stepped up to the podium to say that a 12th year showcasing the industry could not be guaranteed.
Sponsorship had been tough this year, she said.
"Rugby World Cup has taken a huge amount out of the economy."
More sponsors were needed and local and central government also needed to look at backing the event.
It had all been going so nicely. Dan Carter and fiancée Honor Dillon were there. Photographers circled as celebrities mingled. Everyone agreed the new Viaduct Events Centre was much nicer than the old venue in the creaky sheds next door on Halsey St.
Looking out from the second floor function room, dubbed the Moet lounge for the week, the city positively sparkles, a worthy home to one of the world's established fashion weeks. Yet step onto the balcony and the seemingly international skyline framed by the windows shrinks to what it really is, just a handful of high rises.
McCully, who had told the crowd the Government was proud to partner with Fashion Week for a Cup event in October at the waterfront Cloud venue, said afterwards that he would pass the call for help back to agencies and relevant ministers.
"One of the reasons RWC leverages off New Zealand Fashion Week is I can see the role for overall branding of the country."
Designers Trelise Cooper and Liz Mitchell said they were not surprised by Stewart's message.
Cooper said the week provided a platform for designers who brought in much needed export dollars. It was a stepping stone for designers and it also attracted people into the city where they spent money.
"I'm hosting Australian retailers and they're not just here for one night."
More support from local and central government would be "lovely" and also offer economic returns for the nation.
Stewart told nzherald.co.nz that she had decided to speak out just a few days ago because: "It had to be said."
If Fashion Week were to be staged in 2012 it wasn't something she could shoulder on her own.
For existing sponsors and designers who pay to participate this may seem a bit rich considering Fashion Week is a privately owned event which has had its good years as well as tough ones, however, the loss of principal sponsor Air New Zealand and the assistance it could offer in flying in overseas guests, coupled with the downturn in the economy, has obviously hit hard.
The 10th anniversary event last year was subdued. Key international buyers and media have been thin on the ground for some time. This year the trade side of the schedule has been supplemented with more ticketed shows for the public.
"At the end of the day a loss or a profit falls on my head," Stewart says. "It won't go on as it is for another year."
Is this a dramatic plea for a bailout or a genuine appeal for an industry-wide solution?
Knowing Stewart, who spent years quietly lobbying to get the event underway and build its credibility after a long career in fashion, I'd pick the latter.
She's a canny businesswoman, but also a passionate advocate of New Zealand fashion.
It was widely rumoured she wanted to sell Fashion Week before the downturn, but the big event management companies such as IMG that run some international fashion weeks haven't been attracted by this small scale one.
With her daughter, Myken, she has begun a Fashion Festival with a greater retail focus held in March which they intend to push on with.
Stewart said she wasn't necessarily looking for taxpayer support for Fashion Week.
The way forward included more sponsor backing and perhaps the formation of an industry body, such as the British Fashion Council which runs London Fashion Week.
She wanted to "spread the load" and see different people in the industry decide what should happen.
She pointed out, however, that overseas weeks often received considerably government backing.
Clearly, a challenge has been issued: You want Fashion Week, then you need to pay more to keep it.